The CHP problem, again…

The CHP problem, again…

Something is happening in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). There is a defeatist, panic atmosphere. There is still time before the next elections, the country is only just out of the 2011 parliamentary polls. What are on the horizon, however, are the local polls, and in the CHP a defeat-phobia has apparently started to spread.

Why did the second strongest man of the party Gürsel Tekin step down from his duties? Was not he the right hand man of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, right from the day he was made the mayoral candidate for Istanbul by then CHP leader Deniz Baykal? Was it not him who aligned with new leader Kýlýçdaroðlu during that uphill battle against the clique of dinosaurs at the helm of the CHP? What has happened, now that he has parted ways with Kılıçdaroğlu, calling for wider democracy, criticizing the elimination of opponents and lamenting that the CHP was becoming a party of the Alevis? Why did he started lamenting about the internal democracy problems in the CHP? If there were such serious and dangerous developments in the party, was he not then expected to act while he was on duty as the second most powerful man in the CHP?

Obviously, the ship is sinking, so Tekin must have believed, and so he left the boat before anyone else. He perhaps did not want to have a share in an electoral defeat, but can he save himself by stepping down now? Was he not at the steering wheel of the party when, despite rampant criticism from writers with insight into developments in the CHP, a center-right man was wanted as Konya provincial leader, for example, just because he was an Alevi? Worse, was not Tekin himself personally leading that operation?

It is impossible for Tekin to claim that he has no share in the undertakings of Kýlýçdaroðlu, because as the second strongest person in party hierarchy it was he and a handful of other people of the same caliber who advised Kılıçdaroğlu for all those faulty decisions.

Then, what indeed is happening in the CHP? How should Tekin’s resignation and similar developments unfolding nowadays within the party be interpreted?

First of all, there is of course a defeatist “we will badly lose the local polls” phobia, and small politicians are trying to save themselves, trying to reject their share in the defeat. Then there are some other calculations. Before the local polls in July, the CHP will convene its convention. That will be crucial for the shaping of the future executives and policies of the CHP. Kılıçdaroğlu is consolidating himself by nourishing loyal delegates at local party conventions. Not Tekin, but everyone with political aspirations sees that Kılıçdaroğlu might not be just an interim leader, as was originally planned. Thus, efforts are underway to establish convention alliances; to join forces and enter the party assembly despite Kılıçdaroğlu. If that can be done, the next step would be to challenge Kılıçdaroğlu at a not-too-distant extraordinary convention.

But, these are all trivial in view of the fact that to become a serious political challenge, irrespective who heads it, the CHP must confront its own past and rejuvenate ideologically. Otherwise, the CHP problem - or Turkey’s opposition problem - will continue.